Auckland’s ASB Showgrounds is now in liquidation due to the cancellation of major events and the subsequent loss of millions of dollars.
The Showgrounds had struggled through a year of cancelled events, in which they lost $4 million – but this year’s Level 3 lockdown was the final straw.
Chief Executive Mark Frankham says he had been gradually laying off his 28 staff since the February Covid Lockdowns; he called in the liquidator and gave his last seven staff the bad news on Tuesday.
“The biggest thing was the closure in February because of those two ridiculous people who walked around with Covid,” says Frankham.
Nearby malls were able to keep trading as essential services, but ASB Showgrounds was not allowed to. “We were closed for 15 days – that was the killer. That broke our back.”
This had coincided with a lease price rental dispute with The Cornwall Park Trust, which owns the land the ASB Showgrounds sits on, which wanted to put up the showgrounds’ annual rent from $750,000 to $2.3 million.
Showground board chair Kim Campbell says whether the showgrounds would now pass into ownership of the landlord (Cornwall Park Trust) or be sold privately was up to the appointed liquidator, Rodgers Reidy director Paul Vlasic.
He says there is no reason the Showgrounds cant continue to host events under a new operator, with a strong pipeline of clients wanting to rent the space.
“It’s a very sad moment, I have to say, for everyone. This is a structure that’s been around since 1889,” says Campbell.
“Hopefully someone can find a commercial arrangement that actually works.”